I love beautifully designed books and The Minnow by Diana Sweeney is exquisite. The book’s designer Imogen Stubbs has been shortlisted for the Young Designer of the Year Award in the 2015 Australian Book Design Awards. Her body of work at Text led to her nomination, and it’s the picture spread across the covers that makes this my favourite of Stubbs’ work (although her cover for The Lost Child by Suzanne McCourt intrigues me).
The illustration is by Katie Harnett and she drew the delightful minnow swimming across the first page. The colour version of this fish is on her website, its paint smudged scales wending through inky water weeds. In her cover, the lake inhabitants that Tom talks to, vie for space with weedy fronds, shells, and fishing net. The dark water rushes past Tom’s feet, the deep midnight blue signifying her grief following her family’s death from the torrential flood of that same water.
The original illustration is beautiful, but it’s completed with Stubbs’ design elements. The title font is enchanting, flowing like the water and every repeating letter different, as if Tom wrote them herself.
Imogen Stubbs only started regular cover design at Text last year, but with the publisher’s Artistic Director W.H. Chong as her mentor, she’s on an ascendant path. I’ve loved his work for years and I’m glad he’s passing on his ways with visual splendor.
Diana Sweeney’s manuscript won the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing in 2013 and was published last year. It’s just been shortlisted in The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for Older Readers 2015. Now I’ll have to read it!